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Interim Final Rule Published on Approval Tests and Standards for Air-Purifying Particulate Respirators

April 9, 2020
NIOSH Update:


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announces the publication of an interim final rule to update the regulatory requirements used by NIOSH to test and approve air-purifying particulate respirators for use in the ongoing pandemic.

With this rulemaking, parallel performance standards are added to existing regulatory requirements for powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) to allow for the approval of a new class, PAPR100. This new class of PAPRs may be better suited to the needs of workers in the healthcare and public safety sectors needing protection against COVID-19. In addition, the interim final rule:

  • Consolidates the technical standards for all types of air-purifying particulate respirators into one subpart,
  • Removes standards pertaining to obsolete respirators designed for dust, fume, and mist; pesticide; and paint spray from the regulation entirely,
  • Aligns the particulate filter testing for the new class PAPR100 with the current requirements for non-powered particulate respirators.

Over the past 20 years, PAPRs have played an increasing role in respiratory protection programs in the United States in the healthcare sector. As seen during the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the 2009 H1N1 influenza, and the 2014 Ebola virus outbreaks, PAPRs are often used in high-hazard procedures in the healthcare setting because they are designed to filter chemicals, blood-borne pathogens, and aerosol-transmissible diseases. Current shortages of non-powered particulate respirators underscore the need for approval of PAPRs more suitable for use by the healthcare workers and first responders dealing with the disease.

To view the complete interim final rule, please visit the Federal Register website.

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